Philippine troops battled Muslim rebels on two fronts Thursday, after about 100 extremists attacked a second city near the southern port where guerrillas have been holding scores of residents hostage in a four-day standoff with government forces.
The latest attack was led by al-Qaida-linked Abu Sayyaf gunmen and other militants, officials said. They planned to set fire to a village and a wharf on the rural outskirts of predominantly Christian Lamitan city on Basilan island. The attack was repulsed by government forces in an hour-long clash that left a government militiaman and an unspecified number of militants dead, and two soldiers wounded, army Col. Carlito Galvez said.
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